I grew up in Sydney on the Northern Beaches. In a different era, I suspect my mother would have been a professional musician. She was a pianist and taught piano – she taught me piano from a young age – and she accompanied choirs, but she didn’t have a career as a professional performer. My father loved music and was very encouraging, but he didn’t play music, he just listened to it.
My mother took me to see my first jazz concert when I was about 12. I remember it quite well. It was Don Burrows playing in Willoughby. He’d just come back from performing at the Montreux Jazz Festival.
I’d come across jazz before that because in my primary school one of the teachers was John Speight, who started the Manly Jazz Festival, and he taught me the recorder. So I probably became aware of jazz through him, and my parents had some jazz in their record collection.
I loved improvising from the word go. Then John Speight, along with...